BY ARAMATA JATTA
The Regional Area Councils have recently unveiled to the National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Government, Lands, Ombudsman and IEC on how COVID 19 Pandemic has enormously affects the revenue generation of councils.
Councils depend solely on tax and rates and in the wake of pandemic and the state of public emergency were declared leading to the closure of markets and shops, which affects revenue collections.
At the Basse Area Council , the committee was taken through a breakdown of the effects of Covid and the outbreak fire at their market on the council’s revenue.
Bubucarr M.Kanteh Finance Director of the council informed the committee that they have a deficit of 1,442,901.00 due to the pandemic. “ last year as June we had a revenue of 11, 753,575.00 , but this year we are not able to get that, we were able to get only 10, 310, 674.00 as at January to June “.
“When Covid Came it tampered with our revenue” Kanteh said
Kanteh said , our market got burnt and we were not able to collect from the cantons, a total D747,850 in 2019but only got D258,000 due to the effects on the fire breakout on the market.
While at Kuntaur Area Council Pa Fansu Darboe CEO of the council told members that ” We were handicapped most of our revenue comes from the Lumos and they were closed for a while about 6 to 7 months , during which period we were not receiving anything from the lumos and that has hampered our revenue base”.
“We have a drop in our collection as people were not complying to pay, they see that the pandemic has led to some restrictions after which we form a team and went to district levels to see how we will collect those taxes”.
Darboe further went on to say council generated about D1,300,000 and right now what we have collected from tax and rates was nothing more than D700,000 and we are left with arrears of D500,000 plus.
However at Janjanbureh Area Council, the Finance Director Buba told the committee that they are greatly affected by covid. He informed the committee that in 2019 from January to June council only collected D297, 555.00 from monthly market and also collected D642,350.000 from the daily/weekly markets. However due to Covid, from January to June, council only collected 175,488.00 from the monthly markets and 412,650.00 from the daily/weekly markets.
Vice Chairman of the council Haruna Barry said apart from covid they have lost nearly all their revenue resources to government institutions or other departments. Barry informed members that their resources such as forest produce,cattle tax, billboard, hotels, sand and gravel. These are our resource base in the region. He asked why should it be taken away leaving their people empty handed?
He appeals to local government authorities to help them secure their lost resources also demanding for 25℅ of GRA collection to stay in their region leaving 75℅ for central government.
Meanwhile at Mansakonko Area Council the management lamented that since the outbreak of COVID 19 they had only D1, 300,000 and they have a loss of D700.000. They informed members that their actuals for 2019 was D504,000 and they estimated D600,000 thousand . The Authorities confirmed that as at now management only collected D100, 000 out of that D600,00.
The management further explained that they have a big market revenue at Jarra Bureng and every week council realize more than 10 to 15 thousand weekly but when the pandemic stroked there was a total loss of revenue in tax and rates.
They recalled that prior to Covid 19 they collect D12,000 each week in every weekly Lumo and D48,000 every month but in the last two and half months before the spread of the virus they only collected D45,600.